As any true TV addict knows, the true meaning of Christmas is to give your fave shows the once-a-year opportunity to get all preachy and filled with holiday cheese, er, cheer. You may want to turn on the boob tube for a good laugh -- but at Christmastime, you're going to learn something, darn it! The following seven Christmas-themed sitcom classics are some of the most awkwardly awesome ones out there.
'ALF' delivers a baby on Christmas
In the two-part 'Alf' Christmas special, the wisecracking alien with a taste for cats is mistaken for a toy and given away to a terminally ill little girl at a children's hospital. Awwwww! Watching this scene where ALF helps out a pregnant lady in a hospital elevator, all we can say is: Wasn't sitcom acting fantastically awful back in the '80s? Also, who exactly allowed an alien to deliver a baby? Considering ALF's voracious appetite, we really don't want to know how he got those hospital scrubs.
'Punky Brewster' frames a poor guy for shoplifting
What's Christmastime without a "Very Special Episode" full of moral preachiness and spoon-fed life lessons? Although the ones learned here by everybody's favorite ragamuffin, Punky Brewster, sound strangely pro-business: Don't shoplift, because shoplifting hurts stores, and then they have to make up for it by charging higher prices. Poor corporate department stores, with their shoplifting insurance that doesn't reimburse them as much as Punky thought it did! Though this episode does feature a hilarious scene where Punky confesses to leaving the poor man who took the rap for her shoplifting "holding the bag." Punky Brewster: future DEA informant?
Dreaming of a black-and-white Christmas on 'Bewitched'
How do you write a show about racial harmony so simplistic, even a child could get the message? Let children write it. This 1970 episode of 'Bewitched,' in which daughter Tabitha conjures up a polka-dot-skin spell so that she and her black friend can look like sisters, was penned by an actual 10th grade English class from Thomas Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. The 'Bewitched' writing staff got a holiday episode and some time on the golf course out of that one. (Warning: dated sitcom blackface gags ahead.)
'Family Ties' re-enacts 'A Christmas Carol'
Dragging out the tired Ghosts of Christmas Past/Present/Future narrative crutch? Check. Using that visual effect where ghosts appear in dissolve? Check. Overly precious child acting? Check. Impromptu caroling? Check. Yet another wooden performance by Tina Yothers? Checkity-check! Seriously, this Christmas episode of 'Family Ties' is the cheesy '80s gift that keeps on giving!
Cory and Topanga almost break up on 'Boy Meets World'
Oh, no -- Cory is having doubts about giving Topanga a promise ring for Christmas! But the TGIF-friendly holiday drama doesn't end there -- Cory just found out that Topanga likes opening presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, and that she prefers real Christmas trees to aluminum ones. Even worse, Topanga prefers cider to egg nog!! Oh, World, why must thou be so cruel to this dear Boy on Christmas?!
Twins miss Christmas on 'Double Trouble'
Too young to remember 'Double Trouble?' This short-lived, uber-'80s sitcom about a pair of fetching, college-aged twins embodied every trope of the genre: an all-saxophone theme song; funky, colorful clothing and hats; a kooky aunt (Barbara Barrie!) who served as den mother-caretaker; unfunny one-liners supplemented by a canned laugh track. In this Christmas ep, the twins become completely bereft when a snowstorm means they can't fly home to Iowa to celebrate the holiday. Really, two teenage girls get to spend Christmas in Manhattan with no relatives, no rules -- and they don't think that's AWESOME??!
Urkel ruins multiple Christmases, 'Family Matters'
Urkel ruined many a Christmas on the TGIF-staple 'Family Matters,' but the first holiday episode, 'Have Yourself a Merry Winslow Christmas,' is easily the best-remembered (and most grating). Steve is all alone on Christmas after being ditched by his parents (because, really, wouldn't you?) and booted from the Winslow home after breaking Laura's ornament and inadverently telling young Richie that there is no Santa Claus. But--wouldn't you know it-- Urkel's Christmas wish comes true and he gets to spend the holiday with the Winslows after Laura finds him all alone and pathetic in the basement. It's one of the many 'Family Matters' episodes which begs the question-- Where are Urkel's parents? In "Christmas Is Where the Heart Is," Urkel and Carl are stranded on the subway on Christmas Eve. While the surly passengers initially threaten Urkel with bodily harm, they soon learn the meaning of Christmas and decorate a tree on the subway somehow.